Most Californians’ views about the budget are not based on an understanding of where the money comes from and where it goes. A majority of adults say they have some knowledge (39%) or a lot of knowledge (15%) about how state and local governments spend and raise money. But given a list of the four top state spending categories—K–12 public education, health and human services, higher education, and prisons and corrections—just 16 percent (22% likely voters) correctly name K–12 education as the area where the most money is spent. A plurality of adults (45%) and likely voters (41%) name prisons and corrections, which is actually fourth largest. On the revenue side, just 29 percent of adults (33% likely voters) correctly name the personal income tax as the top source. Only 6 percent of adults and 9 percent of likely voters are able to identify both the state’s top area of spending and its top revenue source.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
What Voters Know about State Finances
Deliberation depends on information. In our chapter on public opinion and political participation, we note that voters are not always well-informed on public issues. One example comes from the Public Policy Institute of California, which reports on a recent poll of the state's voters: